ABINGDON, Va. — Root vegetables, greens, meats and baked and canned goods are just a few of the items you’ll find at the Abingdon Farmers Market, which opened for the winter season this past Saturday on Jan. 2.
As many as 20 vendors participated in the kickoff of the winter market.
The market operates from 10 a.m. to noon the first and third Saturdays during January, February and March with the last day slated for March 20. The regular season begins in April.
As the season moves along, vendors will carry more produce, such as hydroponic heads of lettuce and tomatoes grown by Pop’s Veggie Basket in Rural Retreat, Virginia.
“It all depends on the weather,” said Market Manager David McLeish. “As long as it doesn’t get too cold for the vendors who have hoop houses, there will be more produce coming along.”
This time of year, Richard Moyer of Moyer Family Farm in Castlewood, Virginia, is growing and harvesting spinach, Asian greens, carrots and shiitake mushrooms. He also sells walnuts and dried cowpeas. With his grass-finished beef, he makes and sells ground beef, bratwurst and chorizo.
Moyer shares a table at the market with friend Ashley Young, who sells parsnips, carrots, turnips, mustard and spinach.
Another market favorite is delicacies from The Balkan Bakery who prepares baked goods based on traditional European recipes from their homeland of Macedonia. Their specialty items include baklava, strudla, eclairs, burek and assorted breads.
The Kling family from Grandview Farm in Abingdon sells lamb meat as well as freshly ground cornmeal from White’s Mill.
Despite the challenges presented by COVID-19, the past spring and summer seasons drew a good turnout of customers, according to McLeish.
During the summer, the market added new vendors, including Wolf Hills Coffee, Tumbling Creek Cider Co. and Kitchen Science, which makes freeze-dried candy.
“We saw a lot of repeat customers and new faces. Everyone did well with following social distancing guidelines,” he said. “Being an outdoor market, we have the benefit of shopping in the open air, which is a healthy environment.”
Sales remained good for many of the 51 vendors during the past spring and summer.
A lot of the meat vendors ran out of items, unable to get supplies fast enough when meat processors became backed up due to the ripple effect of the virus.
“I never knew from week to week what was going to change with the CDC guidelines for farmers markets,” said McLeish.
“We hope to continue to bring fresh local food and produce to our customers.”
The manager listed several reasons he believes farmers markets provide essential services during COVID-19, answering the health and economic needs in the community.
Farmers markets are brimming with healthy food choices, which are known to boost immunity and protect the body from disease.
Food sold at farmers markets pass through fewer hands than food sold in grocery and big box stores.
Farmers markets give customers an alternative to shopping at crowded food stores.
Finally, farmers markets allow customers to buy fresh, locally grown produce from the farmer who grew it. Buying local helps to support local growers.
The Abingdon Farmers Market features vendors within a 50-mile radius from locations including Kingsport and Johnson City, Tennessee to Rural Retreat and Wytheville, Virginia.
For more information on how to become a vendor, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For preorders, visit https://www.facebook.com/groups/AbingdonFarmersMarketDirect.
Carolyn R. Wilson is a freelance writer in Glade Spring, Virginia. Contact her at email@example.com.